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Britannia Video Dance Party

Britannia Video Dance Party

He took her to a supermarket. Probably Loblaws

It’s Friday afternoon, you recently moved to Toronto from the UK and — having got over the hurdle of gaining Canadian experience — are happily sitting at your office desk, minding your own business, working away.

Just then your boss pops his head in and utters those dreaded words that all Brits fear: “Hey buddy, grab a partner, meet us by the stationery closet … it’s the random office dance party! Yay!!”

So, you look around … but there’s no escape. The corridor seems to stretch off into the distance as you walk along it, reach the throng of co-workers and join in the “fun” as you jerk around like a Thunderbirds puppet to Drake singing about The Six.

Or, you can wait until July 22 for the Britannia Video Dance Party! Join the common people for a special night of Britpop and Madchester video favourites including:

Oasis, The Verve, Suede, Pulp, Blur, Supergrass, The Stone Roses, Inspiral Carpets, Sleeper, Ash, Shed Seven, The Boo Radleys, Wonderstuff, Ride, The Smiths, The Charlatans, Happy Mondays, Carter USM, Jesus Jones, Echobelly, Manic Street Preachers, Travis, Stereolab, Ocean Colour Scene, EMF, House Of Love, Ned’s Atomic Dustbin, Kula Shaker, The Jam, Soup Dragons, The Auteurs, Joy Division, Ian Brown, Dodgy, Mansun, Black Grape, Morrissey, The La’s, The Farm, Republica, Menswear, Cast, Space, Longpigs, Echo and the Bunnnymen, Lush, Primal Scream, James, Saint Etienne, Gene, Jesus And Mary Chain, Lightning Seeds, Catatonia, Spiritualized, Adorable, Paul Weller, Franz Ferdinand, Super Furry Animals, Simple Minds, Flowered Up, The Bluetones, The Fall, New Order, The Mock Turtles, Radiohead, and more.

If that sounds like something you’re mad for, then here’s the deets.

I went to the last one and can honestly say, it is a really brilliant night.

Come one, come all to the Brilliant British Patio Bash

Brilliant British Patio Bash

Would have called it the Brilliant British Bash as the odd “P” in BBPB doesn’t look right. But that’s just me

Just got exclusive word — OK, a random mailing list e-mail that loads of others probably got too — that the Brilliant British Patio Bash is incoming on July 18. It’s a school night but don’t let that deter you from:

Live Music and … Invictus Games Activation Team! and …  Business card raffle and win great British gifts!

BUT WAIT. THERE’S MORE!

Tickets include Brill BBQ Buffet, 1 Brit drink, and HST.

Sounds brilliant.

More deets and tickets here.

Hanging out at the British Beverage Showcase

British Beverage Showcase signs

Yep, this is definitely the right place!

So on Thursday Brits in Toronto was invited to attend the British Beverage Showcase, pitched thus:

“British Consul General Kevin McGurgan, OBE invites you to an exclusive trade tasting event featuring exciting newly released UK beverages and mixers. Guests are invited to discover a selection of UK products recently launched or coming soon to the LCBO and the Beer Store, as well as a range of non-alcoholic mixers. This showcase will feature over twenty British and Northern Irish beverage products, including gins, vodkas, whiskies, beers, ciders, coolers, mixers and English sparkling wine.”

Right? Done deal. Half-day vacation from work booked immediately.

Two funny coincidences to get the afternoon started right: my Uber driver was a bloke from Manchester who moved to Toronto in 1972, so we compared notes on Brits living in the city and not one — but TWO — Aston Martins passed us on the road. And you don’t see that every day. Brits everywhere!

The British Beverage Showcase was held at the very nice Wychwood Barns venue, and had all the vendors lined up either side. There were at least 26, so I was very glad I wasn’t driving.

Being the caring hosts they were, there was a nice food table to help soak up some of the booze featuring cheeses, fruit, scones and real, authentic CLOTTED CREAM no less. Not the spray can crap, but the real thick stuff. Delish. Good start.

British Beverage Showcase food

Yes. Real clotted cream. And some grapes

My guest and I started at one end of the aisle and zig-zagged our way down, trying a little of everything. Here’s some of the standouts that I can recommend:

Black Cow Pure Milk Vodka and Black Cow Cheddar (one of the best cheeses I’ve had, actually, so good)
anCnoc Highland Single Malt Whisky
Bloom London Dry Gin (I don’t even like gin but this was bloody lovely)
Penderyn Dragon Series (I can confirm WELSH whisky is definitely worth a tipple)
Thunder Toffee & Vodka Spirit Drink (sweet and good for a shot)
Franklin & Sons Ltd. Natural Indian Tonic Water
Hobgoblin Gold (not a fan of the original but the Gold is, well, gold)
Benromach (15-year-old whisky)

Once I had my happy face on I wandered around looking for some familiar Brits. I spotted the owner of The Caledonian, had a chat with Scottish Chef John Higgins (who pulled a face when I mentioned the Welsh whisky for some reason) and also met the legend himself, British Consul General Kevin McGurgan.

This was an excellent example of how to really show off the best British imports into Canada and Brits in Toronto was extremely grateful to have been a part of it.

Here’s the hosts:

British Beverage Showcase program

These hosts know how to throw a free booze and cheese party, let me tell ya

UK’s Department for International Trade

Visit Britain

Scottish Development International

Visit Scotland

A big Brits in Toronto link love to them and here’s to a really enjoyable afternoon!

Hello, I’m British Bloke

John ink

Hello, I’m British Bloke

Hello everyone, my name is John, AKA “British Bloke” and I created Brits in Toronto almost four years ago. How time flies and what a brilliant experience it’s been.

I started this website with the aim of helping Brits discover Toronto, find out the best places to buy the products they missed from home, interview interesting people and get their views and basically have some fun and educate people on all that Toronto has to offer, from a British ex-pat perspective.

Since then, the support has been astounding and I’m extremely grateful for all the e-mails, tweets, enthusiasm and interest that has been shown in this very niche area.

Anonymity has been fine until now … but I can’t take Brits in Toronto to the next level this way.

Then an e-mail came recently: “British Consul General Kevin McGurgan, OBE invites you to an exclusive trade tasting event featuring exciting newly released UK beverages and mixers.”

My finger hovered over the regular “Thanks, but can’t make it” response … until something clicked, and I realized that Brits in Toronto needed to be at these events, needed to start getting a little more serious and see where I can take this passionate side project of mine.

I went and had an amazing time.

But, on the flip side, I’ve turned down the chance to comment on British happenings in The Toronto Star, CBC Radio’s Metro Morning and the Metro newspaper because I wanted to stay under the radar.

The invite by the British Consulate-General Toronto got me thinking that now is the time to take Brits in Toronto onto its next stage, be able to cover more events, interview people openly and just make this a stronger community for British people in this city.

Everything stated thus far has been true: I did move to Toronto in 2000 … I am British … and real people have been featured in Successful Brits in Toronto and trying to help real people find work and real products and places have been reviewed by me.

But there is no Brits in Toronto “crew.” No office, interns, British admins or cohorts. It’s just me, sometimes talking to myself with two Twitter accounts or being very careful not to tweet the same thing twice. Think I have slipped up a few times and maybe people noticed … maybe not. Those days are over.

So, I’ve tested the concept, people seem to like it and with continued support from the British ex-pat community, let’s take Brits in Toronto onto bigger and better things!

Cheers,
John AKA “British Bloke”

Totally biased product review by me — Walmart Our Finest Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka Masala

“Finest” eh? We shall see. Oh yes … we shall see …

We must have walked past this product a million times in our local Walmart, but often been tempted by a Hungry-Man Salisbury Steak or ready-made ham sandwich instead.

“Sod it,” we mused. “Let’s give it a go. How bad can it be? What does ‘finest’ actually mean?” We grabbed a box and headed off. It only had one pepper of heat rating on the box, but at $2.97 it was worth a punt.

Prep was extremely easy. Just grabbed a fork and made some holes in the cellophane top; the rice was on one side and curry chicken the other. Threw it in the microwave for about four minutes and — Bob’s your uncle — lunch is served. (Too small a portion for dinner.)

Obviously the heat was lacking. One pepper really does equal Trying A Curry For The First Time To See If You Like It level.

But … the taste and flavour was really quite good. The sauce was nice and thick and the chunks of chicken were actually good-sized mouthfuls. We were impressed.

Throw in your own hot sauce and this is a pretty decent curry for lunch. Would buy it again and give it a Brits in Toronto 3/5 stars.

Penny Ashton is back in Toronto with Olive Copperbottom

Penny Ashton

Oh my! What the DICKENS is going on ‘ere then?

We featured Penny Ashton last year when she brought Promise and Promiscuity to Toronto … and she’s back at the Al Green Theatre from July 6-15 with Olive Copperbottom.

“Howdy British Bloke,” she squealed. “I am back in Toronto mainlining another literary superstar Charles Dickens. It’d be lovely if you had the time to do another post about this show too. I am still married to a Britisher too, which is lucky. Not sure how you’re swinging, but good luck in the election!”

Cheers Penny, swinging great thanks! And here’s the plug:

“Following the delicate sold out successes of Promise and Promiscuity, Penny Ashton swaps Austen for Dickens and brings orphaned hero Olive, and a squalid gaggle of Victorian characters to pox-ridden London life. Will Olive find a family amongst the brothels, toffs and gruel? Or will Mrs Sourtart break her heart as well as her teeth? A rollicking one-woman musical journey that will fulfil your greatest expectations and be the best of times and well … the best of times.”

We have to admit it does sound like a rip-roaring good time, so please contact Penny via her website for details.

Where were you when the Huddersfield Choral Society came to town?

Huddersfield Choral Society

Two world-class choirs will come together in a splendid concert that you really shouldn’t miss

One day in the future your grandchildren will look up to you and ask, “Where were you when the Huddersfield Choral Society came to town?”

You’ll look away … unable to meet their gaze … no story to tell. Don’t be that person.

Anne contacted Brits in Toronto to say …

“The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir is presenting a concert that I thought some of your members might be interested in.

“The TMC is thrilled to be welcoming the Huddersfield Choral Society from the UK in June to perform a joint concert of choral classics, featuring many of the greats of English Cathedral music. Enjoy works by Parry, Stainer, Harris, Tavener, Vaughan-Williams, Holst and more. Two world-class choirs, two venerable institutions, one grand symphonic sound!

“The concert takes place Sunday, June 4 at 4:00 p.m. at Yorkminster Park Baptist Church (Yonge and St. Clair). Tickets are only $35, $20 VoxTix for patrons 30 and under. More details here.

“I’d appreciate it if you would let your followers know about this concert.”

Done! And here’s a taste of what to expect: